Dragon
1/35 Sdkfz 131 Panther Ausf. D
Kit Number: 6164
Reviewed by  Jack Bruno, IPMS# 25313

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MSRP: $42.50
Web Site: www.dragonmodelsusa.com

The Panther Ausf D Tank first saw action in the famous Battle Of Kursk in July of 1943. The creation of this magnificent Tank was in direct response to the Russian T-34 series. In many circles it was and remains the best tank to come out of World War Two. During this engagement many problems were discovered (gearbox and sudden fires) and corrected in the next version, the Panther Ausf. A. The Panther featured a 75 mm gun and sloping armor, much like it's T-34 counterpart. But range and crew coupled with armor/firepower made it a Classic and a force to be reckoned with. This tank represents a vehicle used by the elite Grossdeutschland (Greater Germany) Division in the Battle of Kursk, July 1943.

THE KIT:

This boxing of the DRAGON Panther D was the first and since then a few more editions have been released and improvements made in the parts. I picked this kit up on the cheap and you can really make it into something nice. I built the kit almost completely out of the box just to show what can be done with the basic kit. The build is completely out of the box except for the track where I used the fine FRUIL Metal Track. Dragon plastic tracks on these early pressings were very soft (the new ones are much improved). A Flex-File goes a long way toward quickening clean up so take your time. There are bunches of little fidgety parts on the engine deck which includes the handles, so you really have to pay attention to what you are doing or they will sail away or snap on you. As for the instructions..........they're very difficult. They feature a color picture of the kit and the parts and where they go but with all the small parts, it is very confusing at times. For those of you that never built a Panther, it is very simplistic and not to involved as far as construction goes. That in itself made it a breeze to run through. As long as you follow your basic modeling skills, you will have no problem as I did. I really liked the early style cupola, the same found on the early Tigers. For those wanting to add more, wire the smoke dischargers and add picture wire tow cables.....not to mention enhancing the extra track mounts; there is always something more to do if you want to!

THE PAINT:

You get three different versions to do, mostly all for the Kursk Offensive, but I elected to go with the all Dark Yellow Tank of Grossdeutschland. I wanted to experiment more with shading, washes and depth, so the one color was a perfect fit. I started off with an all flat black base coat and started to preshade the chassis and turret separately with progressive yellows. When all this was dry I used Future and applied the neat little decals and when they were set I gave the entire kit another coat of Future. When all this was dry and I had that cool shine, I started several oil washes, from black to dark brown....paying more attention to the wheels and tracks... and since these Tanks were new to Battle, I left off extra's and additional track links. I also did not use any screen on the intakes for this reason. Everything went according to plan and I started to look down the road a bit.

THE BASE:

Well, I admit it... I used a piece of wood from a Russian tree found burning after the Battle... so I lie :). A mixture of Celluclay and White Glue was used to spread out over the wood and vegetation was stuck into it before I painted it and oil washed the entire things heavily. I also applied some to the tank and painted/washed it along with the base to keep things on even keel.

THE END:

One of the careful spots to watch is sliding the tracks over the wheels. Try to mount the side skirts after you do this. Besides that, I really enjoyed this little out of the box venture and it came out really well. It was a fast build, a lot of fun and even better editions have been released so you can be even more creative! Have fun. Thanks to my wallet for this opportunity to entertain you.

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